Edith Osman Interview

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Understanding the importance of women taking leadership roles in order to open the legal system to other women, Edith Osman has repeatedly forged new paths for women. Ms. Osman, who served as the 1999 – 2000 President of the Florida Bar, was the second woman to be elected to The Florida Bar's top position in its 50-plus year history and had one of the least number of years in practice when she assumed the Presidency. During her tenure, she was noted, among many achievements, for having created the Commission on the Legal Needs of Children, and having created a book that documented the history of the first 150 women lawyers in Florida.

Ms. Osman has worked tirelessly to promote women's rights since she became Vice President, and then President, of Miami Law Women at the University of Miami School of Law. After graduation, she immediately became active in the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) and became President of the Dade County Chapter within four years. During those years, she worked on and chaired fundraising events to benefit at-risk children and battered women. In her year as Chair of FAWL's annual fundraiser, $37,000 was raised and donated to Safespace. She went on to become President of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers statewide, continuing to work to further the goals and stature of women.

Continuing to open doors for women, she was elected to the Council of Voluntary Bar Presidents and ultimately became President of the Council — the first woman to hold that position. She later became the first woman to receive the Outstanding Past Voluntary Bar President's Award.

She was next elected to the Florida Bar Board of Governors, the small but powerful policy-making arm of the Florida Bar. She was the first woman elected to serve in the Florida Bar Board of Governor's Executive Committee. Many of the policies the Board involved women and children's issues, allowing her to continue working to raise the public's consciousness and pass rules which inured to their benefit.

After six years on the Board, Ms. Osman ran for and was elected President of the Florida Bar. During her Presidency, there were 66,000 members of The Florida Bar. As President, Osman recognized that children were frequently negatively impacted or not properly represented by existing laws. To address this problem Osman created the Commission on the Legal Needs of Children which ultimately published a report identifying these needs and providing recommendations on how to resolve these issues which to this day are being enacted. Osman also created the first joint project between the Florida Bar and FAWL which resulted in a celebratory dinner attended by 900 people and a book which researched and documented the first 150 female members of the Florida Bar. To further provide access to women lawyers, she set a record high number of appointments of women to bar committees. Continuing her goal of opening doors for women, this year Osman is the first female attorney President of the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Ms. Osman has been the recipient of many awards recognizing her service to the community, her profession, and opening doors to women. This includes the Anti-Defamation League's highest honor — the Jurisprudence Award – as well as the Women of Impact Award XIX by the Women's History Coalition of Miami-Dade County. Most recently, she was recognized as one of 10 "Distinguished Attorneys" throughout South Florida in the South Florida Legal Guide's 10th Anniversary Issue and she received the "Women Extraordinaire" award from Business Leader Magazine, which honors women of outstanding accomplishment and leadership in South Florida.

Ms. Osman went to law school – full time – with two children, ages 2 and 6. While doing that, she earned her J.D. cum laude from the University of Miami. She is most proud of having raised two wonderful children while achieving success as an attorney and as a leader in her profession and community. In 2004, Ms. Osman took her entire family on a life-altering trip to Riga with a Latvian Holocaust Survivors group to allow her parents an opportunity to reunite with their homeland after 60 years and to allow the family to see their roots through her parents' eyes.

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